Networking is an art and it is essential for a young entrepreneur to master it. Networking doesn’t sound that hard. After all, how hard it can be hard to pitch in your idea, exchange contact information and find a potential buyer. It is not as easy as it sounds.
A good networker needs to keep several things in mind. One needs to project a friendly and confident image of oneself without being too cringy. Being shy or having no experience of networking in past won’t help you.
If you are not networking, you are not working.
Here 10 easy ways to boost your networking skills:
1)Never undermine the contacts you already have, You may think that they cannot help you in any way and end up ignoring them or being a snob. All successful entrepreneurs have the talent to give birth to new opportunities from pre-existing ones. Always take a close look at all your resources, you never know which will end up changing your life.
2)You can network with anyone and anywhere. We are not asking you to randomly break into startup conversations with strangers but there is no harm in talking about your startup at a party or at a casual get-together with friends. Startup meets or official events are not your only hunting grounds.
3)You don’t need to be super charming to win the trust of the person. Gaining credibility and ability to convey your message clearly and concisely is more important. Your conversation should not come across as scripted and a shabby marketing gimmick. Refine your communication skills, build rapport, ask questions and most importantly, always try to be genuine and honest. Only say it if you mean it.
4)Don’t expect people to come up and talk to you. You don’t need to be attention seeking weirdo. But learn to take the first initiative. Go talk to the people. Just be yourself.
5)Good networking means good listening skills also. Listen to the other person. Try to guess his/her interests, hobbies. Try to keep the conversation fresh and interesting. No one likes the small talk.
6)Learning to recognize the conversations that aren’t worth your time is also an art. After few minutes in a conversation, one realizes whether it’s a good match or not. Learn to politely exit from the conversations without making it too obvious or awkward.
7)When it comes to networking, knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do.
8)Most of the people tend to ignore this point. Always follow up, perhaps it is the most crucial thing for a good networker to do. A follow-up email or call will never harm you. It may actually help you to make a long-term relationship with a potential client.
9)Everything is transactional in the entrepreneurial business. Never approach someone while just keeping your own interest and gain in mind. No matter what the marketing ‘gurus’ tell you, networking is all about building genuine relationships which are beneficial to both the parties.
10)Always remember that more networking means more opportunities. The size of the party does not mention. Even a small shopkeeper can help you with those small logistics which you always need in your office. As we earlier said, a good networker always see the bigger picture and keep everyone in mind.
As the founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman said,”Your network is the people who want to help you, and you want to help them, and that’s really powerful.”